Calcutta: Mohun Bagan coach Karim Bencharifa was a happy soul on Saturday.
“Yes, I am happy. We played well. Tactically it was a great match. We were playing against a team who are on top of the I-League table. They have the same set of players for the last three years. Playing East Bengal is not an easy task. But I think we raised our game. Defensively we were very compact and coordinated well with the midfield.
“If luck was with us then we could have got three points. (Okolie) Odafe’s free-kick hit the post and then referee (Santhosh Kumar) failed to pick that Uga Okpara handball. I am not complaining against the referee. These things happen in football. Sometimes we are on the right side of a decision, sometimes on the other side,” Karim said.
The Moroccan said East Bengal may have better possession but they hardly got a look-in at the Bagan goal. “They could not break us down. That’s the most important part. If you played negative football then you are wrong… We started 4-3-3 and our intention was to attack. But at the same time we cannot allow free space to players like Penn Orji and Mehtab Hussain. We did not give an inch to them.”
Bagan captain Odafe was upset with the referee. “It was a genuine penalty. Unfortunately, the decision went against us. We do not have any other option but to accept it.”
Tolgay Ozebe said: “We were the better team today. Unfortunately we got just one point.”
In other matches, Pune FC thrashed Mumbai FC 3-0 while Salgaocar beat Lajong 2-0.